In a Sunday ceremony at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center, the local National Guard unit formally received its new designation as Delta Troop, 1-82 Cavalry. In this photo, from left, are Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Zacher, Maj. John Qualls, who is preparing to hand the new flag of the unit to its commander, Capt. Christopher Perrotti, and 1st Sgt. Arnie Pooler.
Photo courtesy Sgt. Joel Chantland
The Oregon National Guard unit based at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center formally switched its unit designation in a ceremony Sunday at the readiness center.
No longer Alpha Company 3-116 Cavalry, the unit is now Delta Troop 1-82 Cavalry. The former unit flag, called a guidon, was deactivated and the new guidon was activated at the ceremony.
The local unit carried the 3-116CAV designation for 10 years.
A narrator at the ceremony said of the guidon, “Historically, the flag or colors of a unit served as the point around which the soldiers of the organization rallied as they moved forward into battle. The colors have traditionally been at the side of the commander and were carried forward even when the commander fell in combat. All others may perish, but the guidon lives on… The uncasing of the guidon here today begins the responsibility for the accomplishment of the Delta Troop mission and the welfare of the troop.”
The narrator noted that the troop flag represents “not only the lineage and honor of the unit, but also the loyalty and unity of its soldiers.”
Carol Roderick, who volunteers to support local guardsmen, told the Chronicle, “For the past four years I've enjoyed working with Command Sgt. Maj. Ron Blocker and the other leadership of the 3-116th Cavalry Battalion and will miss that organization and its support. I met Maj. John Qualls and Command Sgt. Major Brian Zacher of the 1-82 Cavalry Squadron at the ceremony. I know that they will be a pleasure to work with and will provide the same level of support that was received from the 3-116 Battalion for the volunteers.
“The local leadership under the command of Capt. Chris Perrotti is unchanged and together with the support of the local community, we will continue to do great things together for our local guardsmen and veterans,” she added.
“We are planning a Casino Night/dinner fundraiser for October 15th to fund the soldiers' family Christmas party. They in turn are supporting our community with the Pioneer Cemetery cleanup and visiting the Oregon Veterans' Home. They are all truly part of our community.”
The infantry unit is switching from using Bradley fighting vehicles to operating Strykers, a newer weapons platform that is lighter, faster, quieter and more maneuverable than the Bradley, said Perrotti, the unit commander.
The Bradley is a tracked vehicle and has a 25mm main gun that can shoot high explosive rounds or armor-piercing rounds. The Stryker is a wheeled unit. The Stryker is about the same size as a Bradley.
“We’re not just going to any Stryker unit, we’re going to a heavy weapons Stryker troop,” Perrotti said. The unit will have three types of Strykers, including the mobile gun system, which has a 105mm cannon on it. That has “lots of firepower,” he said.
The Stryker’s firepower is such, Perrotti said, that “it can pretty much blow up any tank in the world with the exception of the Abrams,” which is an American tank.
The Stryker shoots with enough force that shockwaves from firing its cannon can be felt up to 100 feet away, he said.
The unit’s Bradleys will be sent to a Nevada National Guard unit, Perrotti said.
Once the Strykers arrive in The Dalles next spring, they may be seen occasionally driving south or north to training grounds, Perrotti said.
While the Bradleys had a maximum speed of 35 mph, the Strykers can go freeway speeds, up to 65 mph, Perrotti said.
Bradleys were not only too slow to go on a freeway, but also too heavy to drive on roads, he said.
The unit, which has drill weekends once a month and training for two weeks a year, practices maneuvers in an area outside Redmond, and practices live firing in an area around Yakima, Wash.
The unit will have 22 Strykers total, and about eight to 10 of them will be kept at the readiness center in The Dalles so personnel can do crew drills and maintenance on them.
The Stryker unit is quieter and stealthier than the Bradley, but has less armor. Not only is the Bradley’s tracked system louder than the wheeled Stryker, but its engine is louder too.
“We can definitely sneak up on the enemy” in the Stryker, he said.
The Stryker and Bradley are both meant for an urban environment, Perrotti said. “As the battlefields of the world evolve, we’re evolving with it.”
The training on the Strykers will take four to five weeks, more than the typical two weeks per year.
“It’s definitely a hardship on the employer so we do appreciate support from our employers because the majority of us only do this two weeks a year,” Perrotti said of the force of citizen soldiers.
The two vehicles have some operational similarities, but are “very different,” he said. “We’ll have to get up to speed, but it definitely helps to have experience on the Bradley.”